Clark Terry: jazz great dies at 94

clark terry 2Trumpeter Clark Terry, a true jazz legend who in his seven decades as a musician and bandleader collaborated with artists ranging from Quincy Jones and Duke Ellington to Charles Mingus and Count Basie, died on Saturday 21 February 2015 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, surrounded by his students, family and friends.

Clark Terry, who died aged 94, was one of the most accomplished all-round musicians in jazz. His faultless trumpet technique was allied to great melodic ingenuity. He had been a featured player in the bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones and was renowned for his good humour and even temper, qualities which served him well in his parallel careers of teacher and bandleader.

For nearly half a century, Clark’s greatest passion was helping to make young musicians’ dreams come true. He was a tremendous source of inspiration, of love, of respect, of decency, and of human rights. He was one of the first recruits to the United States Navy when black musicians were given the Rating of Musician in 1942. From being one of the few musicians who played as a featured soloist in both the Count Basie and the Duke Ellington Orchestras, to being the first black staff musician at NBC, Clark had multiple bands including big bands, youth bands and other ensembles. He was one of the most recorded jazz musicians in history on more than 900 albums.

Many obituaries have been published which give more details of Terry’s life. One such appeared in The Guardian of 26 February 2015. Click here to read it.

Clark Terry will be buried in the famous Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, NY which is the final resting place of other musical greats as Miles Davis, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, W. C. Handy, Lionel Hampton and “King” Oliver.

2 responses to “Clark Terry: jazz great dies at 94

  1. Vale Clark. What a good, useful and productive long life!
    Is it really 40 years since he was at the AJC in Melbourne?
    (Please see my comment, Jazz Ramble, December 20 2014)
    Ah, 1974 memories: Clark swapping trumpet choruses with Cliff Tierney (or was it Doug Dehn?), Clark doing his “Mumbles” act, and on flugelhorn; Clark’s Master Class…….Chatting with Clark in his motel room while he was on the phone to Miles Davis in NY about Cyclone Tracy that day. With Clark and others in an old “flivver” going to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and later at a house party, me “playing” cornet proudly (later feeling idiotic)……Later buying Clark Terry records and instruction books.

  2. Margaret Anderson

    To those who ran, and attended, the 29th Australian Jazz Convention, 1974 at Croydon, will never, ever forget the late great Clark Terry! A man who discovered dim-sims! Then Dietale! A man who also out-limericked Dave Rankin one memorable night in that tent. His big band and small group playing that week is still ringing in our ears.

    Marg Anderson

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